Wednesday, January 19, 2022

How To Travel Around Colombia

South AmericaColombiaHow To Travel Around Colombia

Read next

By air

The main domestic airlines in Colombia are

  • Avianca (Colombia’s main national airline)
  • VivaColombia (the cheap Ryanair-type airline). This airline offers the cheapest fares, but the worst booking system for foreigners. For 2014, foreign credit cards are not accepted to book a flight. VivaColombia has no offices and hardly any tour operators offer a booking service for this airline. Therefore, you can either use the call centre, find someone who has a Colombian credit card (e.g. the hotel manager) or choose the payment option with VIA-BALOTO outlets. With the latter option, you will receive a code that you can use to pay at any VIA-BALOTO outlet.
  • COPA Colombia (formerly AeroRepublica)
  • LATAM Colombia (formerly Lan Colombia and Aires)
  • EasyFly (regional airline around Medellín, Bogotá and Bucaramanga)
  • Satena(ServicioAéreoaTerritoriosNacionales) (operated by the Colombian Air Force to provide transport to the remote areas of Los Llanos, Amazona and the Pacific coast from Bogota).
  • TAC (TransportesAeroColombiana) Charter carrier
  • ADA (AerolineaDe Antioquia) (new airline based in Medellín offering regional flights in Antioquia and neighbouring regions)
  • AEXPA (mainly a charter company to and along the Pacific coast)

They all have well-maintained fleets and regular connections to the main cities in Colombia. The main Colombian airports have been certified as “highly secure” by international organisations. The online payment process for some national airlines is complicated. Payments can be made at the airport or at official counters. Most airfares can be compared at despegar.com.co.

By train

The metro in and around Medellín is the closest thing to a passenger train in Colombia. There are no other intercity trains in the country.

By car

Driving is on the right-hand side of the road – most cars have a standard transmission. The Colombian car fleet consists mainly of 4-cylinder cars of European and Japanese manufacture. Foreign visitors are allowed to drive if they can show an international driving licence (a multilingual card issued by automobile and driving clubs around the world).

Insurance is cheap and compulsory.

The speed limit is 30 km/h in residential areas and 60 km/h in urban areas. The national speed limit is 80 km/h (50 mph).

The country has a well-developed road network connecting all the major cities in the Andean regions as well as those on the Caribbean coast. During the rainy season (November to February), there can be major landslides on roads and highways, which disrupt traffic. This problem is usually resolved within 6 hours to 4 days. There are many toll booths; the price is about US$3. There are also many unpaved roads of varying quality. International land transport is only possible to Ecuador and Venezuela.

By bus

Bus transport is widespread and of varying levels of quality. Long distance trips rarely cost more than USD 55 (one way). When purchasing bus tickets, it is common for the passenger to go to the terminal and purchase the next available bus to the desired destination. Depending on the company or terminal, it may not even be possible to buy a ticket 1 or more days in advance! It is therefore advisable to at least know when a particular service starts and ends on a given day. Long-distance buses usually travel very slowly, as the main roads are two-lane and there is a lot of truck traffic. For any journey that takes more than 5 hours, consider flying.

Some of the main companies operating north of Bogota and Medellin to the Caribbean coast and the areas between the two cities:

  • ExpresoBrasilia, toll-free number: +1 8000 51 8001. From Tigo and Movistar phones, call 501 or 502.
  • Copetran, +57 7 644-81-67 (Bucaramanga), free call: +1 8000 114 164, #567 or #568 from Claro mobiles.
  • BerlinasdelFonce. Trips between Bogotá, Tunja, Barbosa, Socorro, San Gil, Piedecuesta and Bucaramanga.
  • RapidoOchoa, +57 4 444-88-88. It connects Bogotá to Barranquilla, Cartagena and Tolu on three separate routes, passing through several cities and towns, and Medellin to Arboletes, Monteria and Tolu on three other routes, passing through several cities and towns.

Other companies serve several towns and villages in the southern part of the country, south of Bogotá and Medellin and in the areas between these two cities, as far as the Ecuadorian border:

  • Bolivariano, +57 1 424-90-90 (number in Bogotá). Operates buses from Bogotá to Manziales, Medellin, Pereira on three different routes; and from Medellin to Neiva and Mocoa on one route and from Medellin to Cali, Popayan and Ipiales on another route. They also offer international flights to Peru.
  • ExpresoPalmira, +57 321 890-35-97 (from a mobile phone), free call: +1 8000 936-662.
  • Fronteras- Continental Bus.
  • Coomotor.

Note: There are also many other bus companies and drivers’ unions in the country that operate more locally, at different distances from a particular town or department, or between neighbouring departments. Check the articles for each locality to see what is available. In the Amazon, Llanos and the remote southern regions towards Leticia and the Pacific coast, roads are limited or non-existent, as are bus services. In addition, some of these remote areas, especially near the borders with Venezuela, Panama and Ecuador, as well as the Amazon rainforest in the southeast and towards the Pacific coast, may still be dangerous due to guerrilla activity. Check with local authorities before travelling.

With the city bus

At the beginning of the century, very efficient and clean bus systems were set up in urban centres in Colombia and are spreading to other countries. In Bogotá there is the Transmilenio, in Medellín the Metroplus, in Cali the Mio, in Barranquilla the Transmetro, in Bucaramanga the Metrolínea, in Pereira the Megabús. It is always advisable to keep an eye on your belongings and not to bring valuables, excess cash (more than 20,000 COP visible) or unnecessary items. Never accept food or drink from strangers. Avoid talking to strangers at bus stops or terminals. You can be stopped at police checkpoints. Calm behaviour is the best way to avoid inconvenience.

With the metro

The only metro system in Colombia is located in Medellín, in the department (state) of Antioquia. It connects the outlying suburbs to the barrios of Medellín – line A runs from La Estrella to barrio Niquía, line B from barrio San Antonio to barrio San Javíer. The metro system also has two cable car lines: Metrocable line K, from Barrio Acevedo to Barrio Santo Domingo Savio, and Metrocable line J, which runs from Barrio San Javier. Riding the cable cars is a unique experience as passengers ride up the mountains in gondolas. The MetroCable has six stations and an extension to the Parque Arví ecopark. The ride to Parque Arvi costs about 4USD (3500 COP). There, after a 20-minute gondola ride, you reach an altitude of 2500 metres above sea level.

By taxi

In large cities such as Bogotá, taxi networks are very extensive. Prices vary considerably from city to city. Bogotá, for example, is relatively cheap, while Cartagena is expensive. A taxi ride (bright yellow) through Bogotá can take up to a day, but costs less than $15.

When you order a taxi by phone, the company will give you the number of the taxi. The taxi will then be waiting at the address given. You may have to provide a three or four digit code that was given to you when you ordered the taxi. During the day, some taxi ranks in front of hotels, office buildings and government offices only allow certified drivers and companies and also take your name and contact details when you get into the taxi. It is easy to get a taxi from one city to another by phoning ahead and agreeing the price. The taxi will always be cheap by Western standards and it is safe and quite pleasant.

The meter in all taxis starts at 25 and then increases with distance. The number it arrives at corresponds to a fare displayed on the front seat of the taxi. Taxi and bus fares increase on Sundays, public holidays, early mornings and late evenings. There are also additional charges for luggage and for advance booking by telephone.

Unlike many other countries, it is not customary to tip the taxi driver. It depends on the individual.

Many taxis are not allowed to travel outside Bogotá with their licence due to border restrictions. You should always make arrangements in advance to travel by taxi outside Bogotá.

In some places (e.g. Las Aguas in the Candelaria district of Bogotá), you will find a person who acts as a “rabatteur” for taxi drivers – he or she will suggest a taxi and guide you to a specific taxi. You will then receive a small tip from the driver.

In large cities it has become very common to use apps to hail taxis. Tappsi and EasyTaxi seem to be quite popular. Uber is available in Bogotá and Medellín.

With the cable car

With most of Colombia’s population living in the Andes, cable car systems are becoming increasingly popular, both for commuting and for tourist travel. You can use the ones in Manizales and Medellín, which are integrated into the metro system, as well as those in the small rural towns of Antioquia: Jardín, Jericó, Sopetrán and San Andrés de Cuerquia. You can also enjoy the magnificent views from the new cable car over the Chicamocha River Gorge in Santander.

How To Travel To Colombia

By airRegular international flights serve the major cities of Bogotá, Medellín, Cali, Barranquilla, Bucaramanga, Cartagena, Pereira and San Andrés, as well as other smaller cities on the borders with Venezuela, Ecuador, Panama and Brazil.There are daily direct flights to and from the USA, Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, Spain,...

Visa & Passport Requirements for Colombia

Citizens of most Western countries, including most European countries, all South American countries, Panama, Costa Rica, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Belize, Mexico, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Solomon Islands, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Brunei, Philippines, Taiwan, South Korea, Bhutan, Japan, Malaysia and Singapore do not need a visa...

Destinations in Colombia

RegionsAndinoRugged Andean landscapes and altiplanos with Colombia's two largest cities, Bogotá and Medellín, as well as beautiful national parks and coffee plantations.Costa NorteColombia's vibrant Caribbean has much to offer, with both historic and modern coastal towns and opportunities for diving, trekking and exploring the jungle and desert.OrinoquíaThe endless eastern...

Things To See in Colombia

A large part of Colombia is located in the Andes, which means that there are beautiful mountain landscapes. On the other hand, there are also beautiful beaches in the lowlands. The height of some of the peaks allows you to see snow even though they are in the tropics.

Things To Do in Colombia

There is a lot to do in Colombia and you can find parties and celebrations everywhere you go. Colombians especially love to dance, and if you don't know how, they will be happy to teach you. Colombia is known for its exciting nightlife.There are many groups and agencies that...

Food & Drinks in Colombia

Food in ColombiaIn many parts of Colombia, it is common to eat buñuelos (fried cornmeal balls with cheese in the batter) and arepas (fairly thick corn tortillas, often made with cheese and served with butter) with scrambled eggs for breakfast. Bogotá and the central region have their own breakfast...

Money & Shopping in Colombia

CurrencyColombia's currency is the Colombian peso, but the symbol you will encounter is the $. Most banks and exchange offices accept major world currencies such as the US dollar and the euro.ATMs are widely available, with different withdrawal limits. The banks with the highest limits are Citibank, (1,000,000 COP,...

Festivals & Holidays in Colombia

Colombia has 18 public holidays (12 Catholic and 6 civil), plus Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday. The city of Barranquilla has two additional holidays to celebrate Carnival Monday and Tuesday.The following days are public holidays in Colombia:Año Nuevo / (New Year's Day) (1 January)Día de los Reyes Magos /...

Internet & Communications in Colombia

PostThere is no government postal system in Colombia. However, the private company 4-72 is Colombia's de facto postal service, although it tends to be somewhat slow and unreliable. Residents rarely use the 4-72 service and usually turn to courier services such as Servientrega, which has many more branches than...

Traditions & Customs in Colombia

Colombians are aware of their country's bad reputation, and any indelicate remark about the history of violence may earn you a derogatory remark (probably about your country of origin) and an abrupt end to the conversation. However, Colombians are eventually willing to talk about these topics if they feel...

Language & Phrasebook in Colombia

The official language of Colombia is Spanish. Some indigenous tribes in rural areas continue to speak their own language, but almost all people from these tribes will be bilingual in their own language and in Spanish.If you have recently learned Spanish, you will be relieved to know that the...

Culture Of Colombia

Colombia lies at the crossroads of Latin America and the wider Americas, and as such has been affected by a wide range of cultural influences. Amerindian, Spanish and European, African, American, Caribbean, Middle Eastern and Latin American cultural influences are all present in modern Colombian culture. Urban migration, industrialisation,...

History Of Colombia

Colombia was inhabited by many large indigenous cultures such as the Muisca, Tayrona and Quimbaya. Some indigenous groups, such as the Caribs, lived in a permanent state of war, but others had a less warlike attitude. The region that is now Colombia was conquered by the Spanish through alliances...

Stay Safe & Healthy in Colombia

Stay Safe in ColombiaWARNING: Although security in Colombia has improved considerably, drug-related violence is still evident in some, mainly rural, areas of the country. In particular, the kidnapping of foreigners for ransom - although not as great a problem as at the beginning of the millennium - still occurs...

Asia

Africa

South America

Europe

North America

Most Popular